What Are the Benefits of Super Enzymes?
I have a confession . . .
I love me some fettuccine alfredo (give me all that creamy, cheesy goodness!) but, not surprisingly, it doesn’t love me back. As in I’m a bloated, crampy, gassy, headachey mess within a few hours of consumption #notpretty
So I don’t let myself indulge in it too often. (Would you want to be a bloated, crampy, gassy, headachey mess in social situations? Exactly).
But I’ve discovered a secret weapon.
Now, to qualify this, let me say that I’m not one to be overly reliant on supplements. They have their place, but will never be a substitution for solid nutritional habits as you’ll read below.
That being said, when you do allow yourself to indulge (we’re all human!), this may help you avoid those uncomfortable, I-so-regret-this-what-the-heck-was-I-thinking remorseful after feelings – and symptoms!
So what is this holy grail supplement that allows you to painlessly eat (almost) whatever you want?
<insert magical unicorn music here>
Read on to understand how digestive enzymes work within the body and how to use them.
What Are Digestive Enzymes and How Do They Work?
Everyone is focused on what they eat, but what about how they digest?
People have a general idea of what digestive enzymes are, but not many have considered the scope of their importance and the role they play for overall health.
Digestion doesn’t just take place in your stomach. The pancreas produces a large portion of your digestive enzymes, as do the small intestine, stomach lining, liver, and salivary glands (digestion begins in the mouth, after all). But these enzymes do not digest food – they digest nutrients.
Digestive enzymes are catalysts responsible for breaking down food to extract nutrients.
They are then converted to:
- Amino acids from proteins
- Fatty acids and cholesterol from fats
- Simple and complex sugars from carbohydrates
- And other vitamins, minerals, and compounds.
This process is by no means a simple input-output. Dozens of different super enzymes work together along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to break down macronutrients from the foods you eat.
These nutrients are then sent through the bloodstream to the liver and then are absorbed into the lymphatic system, which distributes them to tissues, organs, and muscles.
As you can imagine, this complex exchange is responsible for the body’s access to fuel. But it doesn’t end there. Digestive enzymes affect factors for daily life that are not often considered.
Digestive Enzymes Role in Nutrition
You can eat all the healthy food in the world, but if you can’t absorb it, not even the healthiest of diets will do any good.
Of course, our bodies can only digest what it’s given. High-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables contain enzymes of their own that work with digestive enzymes to break down foods faster and allow your body to access nutrients quickly for cell reparation and growth.
This is why regularly consuming fresh, plant-based food is so important!
Luckily, enzyme production is versatile and can be tailored to the composition of food consumed.
However, if a diet doesn’t include this pairing of essential enzymes, or if the body is unable to produce enough enzymes to promote healthy digestion and diverse microbial life, you run the risk of malnutrition.
This could lead to symptoms such as:
- Thyroid issues
- Lackluster hair, skin, and nails
- Mood swings
- And depression
To this end, maintaining a healthy diet is imperative to support the intricate process of enzyme production.
Digestive Enzymes Effect on the Immune System Support
Studies have been cited that the autoimmune system, which protects us from pathogens and harmful components in the environment, may owe its efficiency to digestive enzymes.
Enzyme production follows suit with microbial gut flora producing various enzymes to respond to different pathological and environmental threats.
This line of defense allows the body to recognize and eliminate many dangers before they can infect the rest of the body.
Enzyme Production and Aging
In a study performed on rats, it was reported that aging affects the ability of the pancreas to produce enzymes. The rats were fed altered diets and the results showed a higher adaptability in enzyme excretion in the younger rats than in the older ones.
As we age, our ability to adapt to changes in diet and nutrient absorption slows. In some, this can lead to chronic digestive ailments.
Though enzymes are not solely responsible for the aging process, they play a large role in how nutrients reach the areas that need them in all stages of life.
Digestive Enzymes and Chronic Stress
Our enzymes could be telling us to slow down. Chronic stress plagues countless individuals, but just because we always seem to be on the go doesn’t mean our food needs to be.
Stress limits the amount of enzymes your body can produce as the brain attempts to eliminate the stressor before it can reengage in normal functions-like digestion.
This is a helpful reminder to slow down!
When we can’t digest our food, we can’t provide our bodies with nutrients. Recurring bouts of anxiety can lead to indigestion and even pesky habits like comfort eating and snacking.
As obesity levels skyrocket, it is easy to see how a simple change like sitting down for meals could provide a fulfilling way to destress and allow our enzymes to break down those nutrients that will speed us on our way.
Digestive Enzymes Necessary for Holistic Wellbeing
Enzyme production is intrinsically tied to well-being and it is important to take them into consideration when planning for your health.
Certain foods like pineapple, mango, papaya, and honey have been used in Central and South America for centuries to regulate digestion and inflammation in the GI tract.
If you ever become concerned about your enzyme production, supplements are widely available, though cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Make sure to check for quality ingredients that leave out fillers that could denature the enzymes.
On those occasions you want to indulge (fettuccine alfredo here I come!) but don’t want the uncomfortable side effects, taking a super enzyme supplement can provide your gut the support it needs.
My favorite digestive enzyme is from Standard Process, a brand I trust and have been using for years. The best way to get this supplement is from a holistic practitioner who can test its efficacy for you personally.
It’s also available on Amazon (but buyer beware – make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller).
To learn how to increase your digestive enzymes and overall gut health every day, see these related resources:
Remember, your diet is the best way to increase your enzymes! Download my FREE guide to a whole food plant-based diet with over 60 easy recipes
Over to you: Do you take digestive enzymes? How do you care for your gut health? Let me know in the comments!
Hi! I’m Liane, mindset coach and holistic nutritionist in training. I have a passion for all things natural, healthy and holistic. My aim is to inspire you on your healthy living journey by sharing simple, everyday holistic habits that can transform your well-being and life.